Slight Fall In German Unemployment On Economic Rebound

(FILES) This file photo taken on August 20, 2020 shows a general view of Omsk Emergency Hospital No 1 where Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny was admitted after he fell ill in what his spokeswoman said was a suspected poisoning. (Photo by Yelena LATYPOVA / AFP)

 

German unemployment fell slightly in September, official data showed Wednesday, as Europe’s largest economy showed further signs of recovery following the initial hit from the coronavirus pandemic.

The seasonally adjusted jobless rate ticked down to 6.3 percent in September, from 6.4 percent in August, the BA federal labour agency said.

“The impact of the corona pandemic on the labour market is still clearly visible. However, there are slight signs of improvement,” said the BA’s Daniel Terzenbach.

Coronavirus lockdowns brought the economy to a halt initially but as factories and businesses have returned to work, sentiment has improved.

Economy Minister Peter Altmaier said recently that Germany was on track for a “V-shaped” recovery, signalling a strong upswing in the economy after a considerable decline in earlier in the year.

Government-backed short-time work schemes, called “Kurzarbeit” in German, have softened the blow, saving hundreds of thousands of jobs.

The number of people in short-time work fell in September to 4.2 million from a peak in April of 5.95 million, the BA agency said, although both numbers are considerably higher than at the height of the financial crash in 2009.

Before the coronavirus struck, German joblessness had hovered at a record low of around five percent.

But prospects may darken as the country moves into the colder autumn and winter months and fears grow about a recent uptick in coronavirus cases.

Chancellor Angela Merkel on Tuesday announced new measures to tackle the increase, including restrictions on parties and family gatherings.

“Unemployment should fall by the end of the year,” said Fritzi Koehler-Geib, economist at Germany’s public investment bank KfW.

“However, we can assume that the number of infections will rise again in the autumn. This could lead to a further slowdown in the economic recovery.”

AFP

India COVID-19 Cases Pass Six Million

A health worker (C) wearing a Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) suit collects a swab sample from another health worker for Rapid Antigen Test (RAT) for the Covid-19 coronavirus at a testing centre in Siliguri on August 29, 2020. (Photo by DIPTENDU DUTTA / AFP)

 

India reported its six millionth coronavirus case on Monday as it surged closer to the United States as the most-infected nation, and authorities pressed ahead with reigniting the economy.

The vast nation is home to 1.3 billion people, some of humanity’s most densely populated cities and a feeble health care system, and for several weeks it has reported around 90,000 new cases daily — the highest in the world.

Health ministry data showed a rise of 82,000 cases on Monday, taking the total to 6.1 million and closing the gap on the United States, which has recorded 7.1 million infections. India could leapfrog the US in the coming weeks.

India has a much lower death rate than other worst-hit nations with almost 100,000 fatalities so far — fewer than half the grisly toll of 205,000 recorded in the US, which has roughly a quarter of the population. Brazil has meanwhile recorded 140,000 deaths.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has called on people to keep wearing face coverings when they ventured outside of their homes.

“These rules are weapons in the war against corona. They are potent tools to save the life of every citizen,” Modi said during his monthly radio address on Sunday.

The virus initially hit major metropolises including financial hub Mumbai and capital New Delhi, but has since spread to regional and rural areas where healthcare systems are even more fragile and patchy.

“In several of the pockets where the transmission is active, the infection has gone into the community,” former national health secretary Sujatha Rao told AFP.

“It is difficult to control transmission in such situations and a dramatic turnaround can perhaps be possible only through a rigorous implementation of a lockdown and preventive measures like mask wearing.”

– No Lockdown 2.0 –

The government is unlikely to reimpose major restrictions after a lockdown in March battered the economy and wrecked the livelihoods of millions of people, particularly the poor.

Some schools have now reopened, and trains, metros, domestic flights, markets and restaurants have been allowed to operate with some restrictions. The Taj Mahal also opened again for tourists this month.

Anand Krishnan, a community medicine professor at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in Delhi, said authorities should focus on treating people who contract the virus.

“The only thing that we can do is take care of people who are ill — identify them faster and treat them better. And follow the social-distancing norms,” he told AFP.

“Beyond that, I don’t think there is anything specific that can be done.”

Some locals in Delhi told AFP that while they remained cautious, their worries about the pandemic had lessened since the start of the year.

“I’m out of the house all day because of my work. I don’t step out of the house for anything else,” said 23-year-old medical store worker Umang Chutani.

“The future is uncertain but one can only be cautious and follow all safety protocols.”

Himanshu Kainthola, 61, who recovered from the virus last month after testing positive with two other relatives, said his family’s fears “have reduced substantially”.

“We have made peace with it. We take the necessary precautions and invest in increasing our immunity rather than being anxious or scared of it.”

Creative writing student Santosh added that the virus was now “part of our lives”.

“You cannot shutdown every business, because the economy cannot collapse… Covid-19 is not going to pay the rent,” he said.

AFP

Nigeria Has To Take Economic Diversification More Seriously – Sanusi

 

Former Central Bank Governor, Mohammed Sanusi (II), says Nigeria has to take economic diversification more seriously in order to experience growth and development.

The former CBN governor who was the guest speaker on the second day of the Kaduna Investment Summit, explained that over-reliance on oil has left the country unproductive.

Referencing Malaysia, Sanusi gave a breakdown of the economic growth of both countries within a 30-year period.

According to him, for Nigeria “there was an increase in wealth but without any structural transformation”.

“We were growing but we did not diversify and that explains the huge levels of poverty in the country, it explains the huge levels of inequality in the country, it explains the vulnerability of the economy to shocks, it also explains the relatively slow pace of growth because when Malaysia started, they started from a GDP per capita level lower than Nigeria’s GDP per capita in 1985. It started from $310 to $4,045 while we started from $345 to $2,055”.

He also stressed the importance of the government creating the right environment and infrastructure for private businesses to thrive.

“One way to look at it is to understand the difference between production and consumption,” he said, adding that “electricity per capita is such a critical determinant for moving people out of poverty”.

Read Also: ‘The Fight Is Over,’ Obaseki Extends Hand Of Fellowship To Oshiomole, Ize-Iyamu

Speaking further, the former CBN governor who is also the Vice-Chairman of the Kaduna Investment Promotion Agency, noted that with the right environment, the country can move away from being only consumers to producers of technology.

He urged the youths also to not only rely on the government but to create opportunities for themselves, including exploring the endless possibilities of their smartphones.

“We need to think over and over again as to how we understand economics and what we see. How do we understand technology or electricity are we consumers or are we producers and that’s why investment in human capital is so important.

“Produce young men who know that they are worth more than just using their phone to import a pair of shoes,” he said.

South African Economy Could Shrink More Than Forecast – Minister

A queue of cars are seen at the Maseru Bridge border post between Lesotho and South Africa on March 24, 2020. Molise Molise / AFP.

 

South Africa’s Finance Minister Tito Mboweni warned Sunday the economy could shrink by more than the 7 percent forecast by policymakers and the central bank for 2020, adding that public finances are “overstretched”.

The economy of Africa’s most industrialised nation contracted by more than half in the second quarter of this year, an unprecedented decline caused by anti-coronavirus restrictions.

Looking ahead, there is a “risk that the actual GDP outcome for 2020 could be lower than previously thought,” Mboweni wrote in the local Sunday Times newspaper.

The Treasury and central bank expect the economy to contract by 7.2 and 7.3 percent respectively this year, after the country went into a strict lockdown in March already in recession.

Mboweni noted that public finances, already in an “unsustainable position” before the pandemic, were now “overstretched”.

“The reduction in economic activity in the second quarter has flowed through to lower tax revenue,” the minister wrote, adding that emergency tax relief to keep households and businesses afloat would compound the loss.

Government is expected to fall short of more than 300 billion rand ($18 billion) in tax revenue — over six percent of GDP — Mboweni said, forcing the heavily indebted country to “borrow even more”.

But he also promised reforms to climb out of the hole, writing “we must be bold in confronting what has impeded economic growth and the progress of our nation.”

He wrote that one of government’s priorities would be to ensure “adequate and reliable electricity”, backed by a commitment to unlock private investment in the public sector.

Unreliable electricity supply from state operator Eskom’s fleet of rickety coal-fired power stations is often blamed as a source of economic instability in South Africa.

The country accounts for around half of the continent’s coronavirus cases, with over 648,000 infections and 15,427 deaths recorded to date, although daily increases have been dropping since July.

AFP

Asian Markets Mostly Up As Focus Turns To US Jobs Data

A woman walks past a screen showing information and the index of the Taipei Stock Exchange on July 24, 2020. Sam Yeh / AFP
A woman walks past a screen showing information and the index of the Taipei Stock Exchange on July 24, 2020. Sam Yeh / AFP

 

Asian markets mostly rose Tuesday following another healthy month for global equities, fuelled by expectations of cheap borrowing for years to come, while traders were turning their attention to the release of US jobs data later in the week.

While the Nasdaq powered to yet another record as tech firms are fired up by people being forced to stay home by the virus, the Dow and S&P 500 dipped, though both enjoyed their best August in more than 30 years.

But signs of a new pick-up in infections around the world and a lack of any movement on a new US stimulus package for the world’s top economy were keeping buying sentiment at bay.

“Following such a strong month and such a strong recovery since we saw the trough back in March, we do think we could see some turbulence over the next few months,” Tracie McMillion, at Wells Fargo Investment Institute, told Bloomberg Television.

“We’re entering a seasonally weaker period, we’ve got elections on the horizon, and also we’re entering the fall and there could be some coronavirus escalation that also could start to worry market participants.”

Shanghai climbed 0.4 percent, with helping coming from news that a survey of Chinese manufacturing had shown a pick-up in activity, a day after an official reading showed a slight dip in the sector.

Hong Kong and Tokyo were flat, while Mumbai added 1.3 percent, a day after data showed the Indian economy shrank a historic 23.9 percent in April-June, which was worse than expected.

Seoul, Taipei, Jakarta and Bangkok were well in positive territory but Sydney, Manila and Wellington were more than one percent lower, while Singapore also dropped.

In early trade, London dipped as traders returned from a long weekend, though Paris and Frankfurt rose.

The key event this week is the release Friday of closely watched US non-farm payrolls figures, which will provide the latest snapshot of an economy that has been struggling in recent weeks from the reimposition of some virus containment measures owing to fresh flare-ups across the country. Updates on the factory and services sectors are also due this week.

Still, the weakness has not given US lawmakers any urgency to push through a new rescue deal, with Republicans and Democrats still at loggerheads.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Republicans will soon unveil a new spending bill “for kids and jobs”, which is likely to come in at around $1 trillion, less than half that offered by Democrats.

He said Democratic leaders in the House and Senate “just don’t want to negotiate in good faith”, and with senators on recess until September 8, there is little chance of anything being agreed soon.

“Not only is ambivalence hurting the nascent economic recovery, more importantly, it keeps the neediest checking their mailboxes regularly while praying a second stimulus check miraculously arrived,” said Stephen Innes at AxiCorp.

“We are talking about people needing to buy groceries, not luxury items here. It’s time for Congress to get off their derrieres and put something actionable together.”

The dollar was at its weakest level against the euro since May 2018 while sterling was around nine-month highs. Oil prices rallied more than one percent, with the commodity helped by signs of a pick-up in US demand.

– Key figures around 0810 GMT –

Tokyo – Nikkei 225: FLAT at 23,138.07 (close)

Hong Kong – Hang Seng: FLAT at 25,184.85 (close)

Shanghai – Composite: UP 0.4 percent at 3,410.61 (close)

London – FTSE 100: DOWN 0.1 percent at 5,959.29

Euro/dollar: UP at $1.1974 from $1.1935 at 2045 GMT

Dollar/yen: DOWN at 105.75 yen from 105.89 yen

Pound/dollar: UP at $1.3406 from $1.3370

Euro/pound: UP at 89.32 pence from 89.26 pence

West Texas Intermediate: UP 1.1 percent at $43.08 per barrel

Brent North Sea crude: UP 1.2 percent at $45.80 per barrel

New York – Dow: DOWN 0.8 percent at 28,430.05 (close)

AFP

Stocks Slide As US Jobless Data Fuel Economy Concerns

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE). Spencer Platt/Getty Images/AFP.

 

Stock markets slid Thursday as worse-than-expected US jobless data stoked concern about the outlook for the world’s biggest economy.

The dollar fell against the euro in response to the news that just over 1.1 million people filed new claims for jobless benefits last week, a steeper rise than anticipated.

Stock prices, already in the red earlier in the session, continued lower as a result, pulled down by early losses on Wall Street.

Already on Wednesday, a sobering Federal Reserve assessment of the US economic outlook had soured sentiment on stock markets across the globe.

“The fallout from the Fed minutes continues across markets, with European indices in the red and US futures pointing to a weaker open after days of gains,” noted Chris Beauchamp, analyst at IG trading group.

With the coronavirus continuing to ravage the country and containment measures keeping businesses closed, minutes from the Fed’s July meeting showed it was concerned about the recovery, as help for small businesses, extra money for the jobless and direct payments to all Americans come to an end.

Federal Reserve chief Jerome Powell has led repeated calls for more government support for the economy.

The “minutes are casting a shadow over markets and underline that any recovery is not going to be a straight line of advances”, said Neil Wilson of Markets.com.

“The Fed layered on the risks and caution thick, but didn’t come up with any sweeteners for the market in the shape of more easing.”

“There is a big risk the economy may not recover as strongly or as quickly as had been priced in by US markets,” said ThinkMarkets analyst Fawad Razaqzada.

The Fed minutes “revealed that policy makers… were concerned that coronavirus posed ‘considerable risks’ to the economic outlook. It is very difficult to remain bullish on US equities without witnessing a sizeable correction first.”

After bottoming in March, world equities have surged thanks to a wall of cash support from the Fed and other central banks.

But with the multi-trillion-dollar fiscal rescue hammered out earlier this year now running out, US lawmakers are under pressure to stump up more.

While Democrats and Republicans dig their heels in on a new package, the chances of anything coming soon are slim.

Adding to the downward pressure were ever-present China-US tensions.

– Key figures around 1340 GMT –

New York – Dow: DOWN 0.4 percent at 27,592.87 points

London – FTSE 100: DOWN 1.5 percent at 6,020.95

Frankfurt – DAX 30: DOWN 1.3 percent at 12,813.52

Paris – CAC 40: DOWN 1.3 percent at 4,911.34

EURO STOXX 50: DOWN 1.3 percent at 3,273.83

Tokyo – Nikkei 225: DOWN 1.0 percent at 22,880.62 (close)

Hong Kong – Hang Seng: DOWN 1.5 percent at 24,791.39 (close)

Shanghai – Composite: DOWN 1.3 percent at 3.363.90 (close)

Euro/dollar: DOWN at $1.1815 from $1.1841 at 2100 GMT

Dollar/yen: DOWN at 105.93 yen from 106.12 yen

Pound/dollar: UP at $1.3103 from $1.3093

Euro/pound: DOWN at 90.21 pence from 90.40 pence

West Texas Intermediate: DOWN 2.5 percent at $42.00 per barrel

Brent North Sea crude: DOWN 2.1 percent at $44.37 per barrel.

AFP

We Cannot Afford To Let Our Economy Slide, PTF Tells Business Owners

PTF Chairman, Boss Mustapha, speaking at a press briefing in Abuja on August 13, 2020.

 

The Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 has called on Nigerians to take advantage of the Federal Government’s effort to cushion the effect of the pandemic on the nation’s economy and the people.

The PTF Chairman, Boss Mustapha, made the call on Thursday at the briefing of the task force in Abuja, the nation’s capital.

He noted that the United Kingdom hinted that it would be going into a recession after its economy suffered a slump in growth by a record 20 per cent in the second quarter.

Mustapha, who is also the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), said the Nigerian Government had put in place an Economic Sustainability Plan to prevent such occurrence.

He explained that the plan was backed by a stimulus package in the sum of N2.6 trillion to boost local economies and production, for all sizes of businesses, including small family businesses.

The PTF chairman believes it is important for businesses in the country to take advantage of the stimulus package to revive their businesses and give them a boost.

Giving an update on the outbreak of COVID-19 in Nigeria, he noted that the country has reported fewer numbers of confirmed cases in the last two weeks.

READ ALSO: Death Sentence Of Kano Singer Must Be Quashed – Amnesty International

Mustapha, however, warned that the reports should not be misconstrued as a victory over the virus.

According to him, there is still a serious battle to be fought ahead as a country and it is that the nation continues to build on the successes recorded so far.

The SGF also gave an update on the ongoing exercise to evacuate Nigerians stranded in various countries as a result of the pandemic.

He revealed that a total of 14,906 people have been evacuated during the COVID-19 pandemic and almost 80 per cent of them were youths.

Mustapha added that 13,844 of the returnees had taken the COVID-19 test so far and the results of 684 people came back positive.

Read the full text of the PTF chairman’s remarks at the briefing below:

REMARKS BY THE SECRETARY TO THE GOVERNMENT OF THE FEDERATION/CHAIRMAN OF THE PTF-COVID-19 AT THE NATIONAL PRESS BRIEFING OF THURSDAY, 13th AUGUST, 2020

I welcome you all to the National Briefing by the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 for Thursday, 13th August 2020.

The country has effectively entered the second week of the extended eased lockdown phase and the PTF continues to monitor global and national trends in the response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Globally, the world continues to pursue the search for a vaccine with over 1000 trials on-going and different claims of levels of success. We note particularly, the announcement by the President of Russia on the breakthrough in the development of a vaccine even as we study the developments.

Fighting the pandemic successfully will take a global effort and Nigeria will not be left out whenever and wherever progress is made. However, the health and safety of Nigerians will always remain our priority in the pursuit of a solution.

For us in Nigeria, we shall remain focused on propagating the use of proven avoidance methods to break the transmission of the virus and effective case management to care for and treat infected persons.

The ravaging effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on the global economy should provide more compelling reasons for us all to leave no stone unturned in fighting this pandemic.

This week, the United Kingdom would be going into a recession after its economy suffered a slump in growth by a record 20% in the second quarter.

I wish to remind all Nigerians that ahead of such occurrence, our Government had put in place an  Economic Sustainability Plan backed by a stimulus package in the sum of N2.6 trillion to boost local economies, production and for all sizes of businesses including small family businesses.

I, therefore, urge our businesses to take advantage of the stimulus package to revive and/or boost their businesses. We cannot afford to let our economy slide.

The PTF wishes to note as we have done before that fewer numbers of confirmed cases have been recorded in the last two weeks. This should never be misconstrued as a victory over the virus.

There is still a serious battle to be fought ahead of us as a people and as a country. It is, important, therefore, that we continue to build on our successes and not do anything to detract from them.

Our Risk Communication and Community Engagement messaging and consultations have been intensified, to drive the level of awareness and compliance to the wider population using media and platforms that are most effective generally and specifically.

We wish to appeal to all Nigerians to exercise caution and restraint at all times. I wish to note however that from the reports for yesterday 12th August 2020 no fatality was recorded.

The PTF is pleased to associate with the celebration of International Youth Day 2020 under the theme “Youth Engagement for Global Action” which seeks to recognize the immense contributions and role of young people in achieving sustainable peace and development across all levels.

Implicit in this is the need to galvanise engagement of youths to significantly enhance peacebuilding to promote social cohesion in this era of social distancing and collective fight in containing the COVID-19 pandemic.

The PTF appreciates all our young people who have stepped out and are contributing to the fight against the pandemic and implore others yet to do so, to join this fight with all the necessary passion their youthful energy can bring to bear. I am sure that our risk communication and community engagement strategy would gain a lot of mileage if the various youth organisations and the youths themselves heed this call.

It might interest you to note that of the 14,906 evacuees received during this COVID-19 pandemic, close to 80% are youths for which we are glad that only 684 tested positive to the coronavirus out of the 13,844 so far tested.

In the coming days, we hope to receive more evacuees from different parts of the world. The National Coordinator will elaborate on this.

In the course of the week, the United States of America made good the promise made by President Donald Trump to donate medical equipment, including 200 ventilators to Nigeria as a support in the fight against the COVID-19.

Nigeria recognises the fact that the pandemic is a global challenge and particularly, it has impacted the United States of America in several ways, yet the bond of friendship has prevailed.

This sacrifice and support to Nigeria is very much appreciated. I want to assure the Government and people of the United States that these ventilators, like other materials received from our various partners, would be judiciously deployed and transparently managed.

I now call on the Honourable Minister of Health, DG, NCDC, and the National Coordinator to provide us with technical updates.

I thank you so much for your attention and have a good evening.

Russia’s Economy Shrinks By 8.5 Percent In Second Quarter

People wearing face masks to protect against the coronavirus disease wait for a bus at a bus stop in the town of Chekhov, some 70 km outside Moscow, on August 11, 2020. Yuri KADOBNOV / AFP
People wearing face masks to protect against the coronavirus disease wait for a bus at a bus stop in the town of Chekhov, some 70 km outside Moscow, on August 11, 2020.
Yuri KADOBNOV / AFP

 

Russia’s economy contracted by 8.5 percent year-on-year in the second quarter, the state statistics agency said Tuesday in its first assessment of the impact of the coronavirus and an oil crisis.

GDP fell in “all areas of the economy except agriculture” between April and June, the Rosstat agency said in a statement, with passenger transport down 79 percent and the services industry down 37.2 percent.

Rosstat’s figure for the second quarter was within the central bank’s forecast of between 8 and 10 percent, while the government had predicted a 9 percent reduction in economic activity.

The sharp drop came after 1.6 percent growth in the first quarter.

Russia had seen its economy pick up towards the end of 2019, while economic growth over the year as a whole was a sluggish 1.3 percent.

Russia had hoped 2020 would see an economic revival bolstered by massive state projects to modernise infrastructure.

Those hopes were crushed by an oil crisis that began in March. Russia and Saudi Arabia launched a price war, dealing a severe blow to Russia’s economy dependent on exports of oil and gas.

The virus pandemic hit Russia shortly afterward and the country imposed strict lockdown measures from the end of March until early May.

The Russian economy has been less badly hit by the virus than some countries due to its smaller service sector, according to economists.

President Vladimir Putin said in mid-July that Russia’s economic activity was “gradually” recovering.

Shortly afterwards Russia dropped an ambitious goal to become one of the world’s top five economies by 2024 and pushed a target to halve the numbers living in poverty back by six years to 2030.

 

 

AFP

US Economy Contracts By Record 32.9 Percent In Second Quarter Amid Pandemic

In this file photo taken on June 29, 2020, The "Fearless Girl" statue stands in front of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) at Wall Street in New York City. Angela Weiss / AFP
In this file photo taken on June 29, 2020, The “Fearless Girl” statue stands in front of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) at Wall Street in New York City. Angela Weiss / AFP

 

The US economy collapsed in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic in the April-to-June period, contracting 32.9 percent in the second quarter, the government reported Thursday.

The decline, though slightly less bad than expected, was the worst on record for the world’s largest economy, dating back to 1947.

However, the Commerce Department figures are an annual rate so not comparable to the quarterly contractions reported in other advanced economies.

Compared to the same quarter of 2019, economic activity fell 9.5 percent.

The plunge in GDP was driven largely by the drop in consumer spending, the largest component, which fell 34.6 percent annualized, according to the first estimate for the second quarter.

After a 5.0 percent drop in the first three months of the year, economists had been expecting the damage from COVID-19 to contract activity by 35 percent or more amid the nationwide halt to travel and much business, which caused tens of millions of jobs to be destroyed.

The data show trade also took a huge hit, with exports falling just over 64 percent, and imports down 53.4 percent.

But personal income got a boost of $1.4 trillion in the quarter from the government emergency spending measures that provided payroll funds for businesses and direct unemployment payments to workers.

The annualized data assumes the damage wrought in a single quarter will play out over the entire year, but economists expect a rebound in coming months.

However, the hopeful signs in May and June have given way amid a resurgence of virus cases in July that has forced authorities in some states to reimpose restrictions.

US stocks futures were down a bit less than one percent following the data.

 

AFP

COVID-19: Governors Meet Over Reopening Of Economy, Other Issues

A file photo of members of the NGF at a meeting in Abuja in January 2020.

 

Members of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) met on Wednesday to discuss issues affecting the country, including the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic on Nigerians and the economy.

At the meeting which held virtually and was presided by the NGF Chairman and Ekiti State Governor, Kayode Fayemi, the governors resolved to approve the work of the NGF Sub-Committee interfacing with the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19, to consolidate measures to gradually open the formal and informal sectors of the economy.

Delta State Governor, Ifeanyi Okowa, who is the chairman of the committee, had briefed the Forum on steps taken to provide a coordinated strategy between the Federal and state governments to ease the lockdown and open the economy.

His counterpart in Kaduna State, Governor Nasir El-Rufai, also provided an update on the implementation of the final report of the NEC Ad-Hoc Committee on COVID-19 “Containing the Outbreak and Responding to the Adverse Economic Effects,” which was presented to the Vice President and Chairman of the Committee, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, in March.

Governor El-Rufai, who is the Chairman of the NGF Sub-Committee on COVID-19, informed his colleagues that the recommendations of the report have been integrated into the Nigeria Economic Sustainability Plan (ESP).

He also outlined the cross-cutting imperatives for a post-COVID economic recovery, including a unique identity system for Nigeria, broadband connectivity, and investment in the manufacturing of pharmaceutical generics.

Others are research and development, as well as institutional reforms for the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) along the lines of PENCOM.

 

In their resolution, the governors endorsed the work of the sub-committee and resolved to engage with the Vice President to facilitate states’ representation in the implementation committee of the Nigeria Economic Sustainability Plan.

They also called for the revitalisation of the Nigeria’s Mortgage Bank to support the government’s housing programme, as well as the importance of the N2 trillion Nigeria Infrastructure Investment Fund to stimulate the economy.

Concerned about the rate of the community spread of COVID-19 cases with mild or no symptoms, the NGF urged the state governments to ramp up testing to curb the spread of the virus.

Read the communique issued at the end of the meeting below:

ISSUED AT THE END OF THE 12th COVID-19 TELECONFERENCE MEETING OF THE NIGERIA GOVERNORS’ FORUM HELD ON WEDNESDAY, 8th JULY 2020

We, members of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF), at our meeting held today, Wednesday, 8th July 2020 deliberated on issues affecting the country including the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The NGF Chairman provided an update on:

The World Bank Regional Disease Surveillance Systems Enhancement (REDISSE) programme which is a US$100 million COVID-19 support from the federal government to fund health mitigation measures across states.

The Fund comes at a critical time as the impact of COVID-19 prolongs and when State governments prepare for the reopening of the economy, and it will support broader mitigation measures required to ensure seamless easing of the lockdown across States.

The COVID19 pandemic and the new strategy being rolled out by the Presidential Taskforce (PTF) to address the spread of the pandemic.

LGAs with a high burden of diseases (hotspot) have been identified and targeted with interventions such as increased testing, and promotion of non-pharmaceutical intervention including hand hygiene, respiratory etiquette, mandatory masking in public, and partial or total lockdown restricting movement.

The PTF will reach out and work with the Governors of the respective States to implement the strategy.

Other matters of concern including deductions from the federation account to fund the North East Development Commission (NEDC); stamp duty collection; ownership of the Nigeria LNG Limited (NLNG); as well as the contentious Executive Order 10.

The Forum also received updates and presentations from:

The Governor of Delta State, Dr Ifeanyi Arthur Okowa, Chairman of the NGF Sub-Committee interfacing with the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 to provide a coordinated strategy between the Federal and State governments to ease the lockdown and open the economy.

The Governor of Kaduna State, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, Chairman of the NGF Sub-Committee on COVID-19 who provided an update on the implementation of the Final Report of the NEC Ad-Hoc Committee on COVID-19 “Containing the Outbreak and Responding to the Adverse Economic Effects” which was presented to the Vice President and Chairman of the Committee, Professor Yemi Osinbajo in March 2020.

The Governor noted that the recommendations of the report have been integrated into the Nigeria Economic Sustainability Plan (ESP).

He also highlighted cross-cutting imperatives for a post-COVID economic recovery, including a unique identity system for Nigeria; broadband connectivity; investment in the manufacturing of pharmaceutical generics; research and development; as well as institutional reforms for the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) along the lines of PENCOM.

Engr. Nuruddeen Rafindadi, Managing Director, Chief Executive Officer of the Federal Roads Maintenance Agency (FERMA) who made a presentation on FERMA’s Road Maintenance Programme and Challenges.

Oliver Stolpe, Country Representative of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in Nigeria and Dr Yemi Kale, Statistician-General, National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) presented findings of the second Corruption Survey in Nigeria, which showed that the incidence of bribery has decreased since 2016 when the survey was first conducted, from 32.3% to 30.2%.

The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva also addressed the Forum on the National Gas Expansion Programme (NGEP) which is designed as a catalyst to adding value to the vast natural gas reserves in Nigeria.

The plan will also spur revitalisation across gas-based industries in fertilizer, methanol, textiles, and feedstock for industries.

Thereafter, members of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum resolved as follows to:

Endorse the work of Governor Okowa’s Committee to consolidate measures to gradually open the formal and informal sectors of the economy.

Endorse the work of the El-Rufai Committee and resolved to engage with the Vice President and Chairman of the National Economic Council, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, to facilitate States’ representation in the implementation committee of the Nigeria Economic Sustainability Plan.

Members also advocated for the need to revitalise Nigeria’s Mortgage Bank to support the government’s ambitious housing programme, and the importance of the N2 trillion Nigeria Infrastructure Investment Fund to stimulate the economy.

Collaborate with the Ministry of Petroleum Resources and FERMA to ensure the implementation of the 5% user charge on the pump price of petrol and the international vehicle transit charge to better fund road projects in Nigeria.

Although the second corruption survey focused on federal government agencies, members resolved to collaborate with UNODC to strengthen public complaints mechanisms across State MDAs given that state institutions, businesses, and households are affected by bribe seeking among public sector officials.

Collaborate with the Ministry of Petroleum Resources to support the implementation of the National Gas Expansion Programme through a state-wide adoption of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG); easing gas pipeline right of way applications; and encouraging the micro stove assembly for small businesses, including facilitating training for gas operators.

Finally, given the rise in the community spread of coronavirus cases with mild or no symptoms, State governments are encouraged to ramp up testing to curb the spread of the virus especially amongst those with pre-existing conditions and the elderly.

Governor Kayode Fayemi

Chairman, Nigeria Governors’ Forum

8th July 2020

Eurozone Economy To Crash 8.7% In 2020 – EU Forecast

 

The eurozone economy will plunge 8.7 percent in 2020 due to the coronavirus crisis, the European Commission said Tuesday in more pessimistic forecasts that do not see a complete rebound next year.

The new forecasts see the eurozone economy bouncing back by 6.1 percent in 2021, still leaving the region worse off than before the countries were forced to implement lockdowns in an attempt to contain the spread of COVID-19.

“The economic impact of the lockdown is more severe than we initially expected,” said Commission Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis in a statement accompanying the release of the updated forecasts.

“Looking forward to this year and next, we can expect a rebound but we will need to be vigilant about the differing pace of the recovery,” he added.

Germany, the EU’s biggest economy, is expected to see a 6.3 percent contraction this year and 5.3 percent growth in 2021.

The economies of France, Italy and Spain will each contract by more than 10 percent, and then partially recover.

France, the eurozone’s second-largest economy, is expected to contract by 10.6 percent this year and grow by 7.6 percent in 2021.

Italy, which should suffer a 11.2-percent drop this year, is only forecast to rebound by 6.1 percent in 2021.

Spain’s economy is seen as contracting by 10.9 percent before bouncing back by 7.1 percent.

“The policy response across Europe has helped to cushion the blow for our citizens, yet this remains a story of increasing divergence, inequality and insecurity,” said the EU’s economy commissioner, Paolo Gentiloni.

“This is why it is so important to reach a swift agreement on the recovery plan proposed by the Commission –- to inject both new confidence and new financing into our economies at this critical time,” he added.

AFP

UK Economy Suffers Worst Quarterly Slump Since 1979

A sign painted on the ground reminds people to practice social distancing as a precaution against the spread of COVID-19 in the centre of Leicester, central England, on June 29, 2020. – The central English city of Leicester could be the country’s first to face a local lockdown due to a rise in coronavirus cases, the UK’s Home Secretary Priti Patel said on June 28. Ben STANSALL / AFP.

 

Britain’s economy has suffered its biggest quarterly contraction for more than 40 years as the coronavirus pandemic slashed activity, revised official data showed Tuesday.

Gross domestic product shrank 2.2 percent in the first quarter, or January-March period, compared with the prior three months, the Office for National Statistics said in a statement giving a second estimate.

The initial figure given by the ONS showed a GDP contraction of 2.0 percent in the first quarter, or worst reading since the global financial crisis in 2008.

Second-quarter data will show the full impact of coronavirus because Britain’s nationwide coronavirus lockdown was only imposed on March 23.

Recent official figures had showed UK economic activity crashed by a record 20.4 percent in April.

“Our more detailed picture of the economy in the first quarter showed… the largest quarterly fall since (the third quarter of) 1979,” said ONS deputy national statistician Jonathan Athow.

“All main sectors of the economy shrank significantly in March as the effects of the pandemic hit.”

Athow added however that “the sharp fall in consumer spending at the end of March led to a notable increase in households’ savings”.

This has been helped further by the government paying the bulk of private-sector workers’ wages during the pandemic to keep them in jobs.

Economists meanwhile anticipate a double-digit slump in output during the second quarter or April-June period, placing Britain in a technical recession.

“It is evident that the UK economy witnessed a record GDP contraction in the second quarter,” said Howard Archer, economist at EY, which is forecasting a 17-percent slump before a 10-percent rebound in the third quarter.

The Bank of England has warned that COVID-19 paralysis could spark the nation’s worst recession in centuries, after the coronavirus slammed economies worldwide.

Earlier this month, the BoE unveiled an extra £100 billion ($126 billion, 112 billion euros) of cash stimulus to prop up Britain’s coronavirus-hit economy.

It had already reacted by slashing its main interest rate to a record-low 0.1 percent and pumping £200 billion into the economy to get retail banks lending to fragile businesses.

AFP